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Lao Ban soya beancurd father & son embroiled in lawsuit over trademark infringement

The relationship between father and son was said to be unaffected.

Zhangxin Zheng | April 6, 03:17 am

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Lao Ban is a Singaporean family business that sells popular chilled soya beancurd.

According to Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao, the founder of Lao Ban, 69-year-old Li Pui Shing, and his eldest son are caught in lawsuits.

The legal tussle was started by the elder Li.

Context: Lao Ban and Xiao Ban

With the success of Lao Ban, the elder Li’s children have branched out to start their own soya beancurd brands.

One of which is called Xiao Ban, started by the eldest son, Ken Li and three other partners.

Both brand names sound pretty similar, aye?

Furthermore, Xiao Ban brands itself as a “cafe-concept” brand extension of the popular Lao Ban brand to reach out to the younger audience, according to its website.

The logo and packaging of Xiao Ban soya beancurd also resemble that of Lao Ban.

Besides the fact that the younger Li is one of the shareholders of Xiao Ban, the elder Li clarified that Xiao Ban is not part of the Lao Ban family business.

Lawsuit over trademark infringement

Zaobao reported that the elder Li decided to file a lawsuit against Xiao Ban over trademark infringement out of fear that the similarities in both logos might confuse tau huay eaters.

The elder Li appealed to the court to forbid Xiao Ban from using the current logo that resembles the Lao Ban’s logo, and to stop associating with Lao Ban by using the Lao Ban brand for publicity.

The elder Li also sought compensation from Xiao Ban for the alleged damage that Lao Ban has incurred.

To make his point, the elder Li even highlighted that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was misinformed by the founder or founders of Xiao Ban that the two brands are related.

Xiao Ban was mentioned in the National Day Rally Mandarin speech in 2017.

Despite the ongoing lawsuit, the older Li emphasised that he still maintains a good relationship with his eldest son.

Defendant counter sues Lao Ban

In response, the defendant claimed that the name “Lao Ban” was proposed by the younger Li, while Li’s sister, who drew and owns Lao Ban’s trademark, also gave her support to the “Xiao Ban” trademark.

The ownership of Lao Ban trademark was transferred to the father in 2015.

Compensation for damages

Xiao Ban also counter sued to seek compensation for damages incurred as a result of Lao Ban’s accusation.

The elder Li was said to have given his permission to his children to use Lao Ban’s branding to expand the business.

It was reported that the elder Li rebutted that he only agreed to allow his children to use the Lao Ban brand if they own the company entirely.

Xiao Ban, however, mainly belongs to outsiders that the elder Li claimed he has not met or spoken to before.

In this venture, the younger Li was said to hold only 10 percent of the shares.

Not in Singapore

The elder Li also said that he agreed to let the younger Li set up Xiao Ban with his friends on the condition that they do not use this brand name in Singapore.

Xiao Ban currently has four outlets in Singapore and a total of 11 overseas outlets in Cambodia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Top photo collage from @maryderoux and @xiaobansg

About Zhangxin Zheng

Zhangxin’s favourite pastime is singing Mulan’s soundtrack in the mangrove forests. She hopes to perfect the art of napping in a hammock in the mangroves without being drowned by rising sea levels.

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